What can your web browser tell us about your future career success?

What makes people successful in their careers? Most people might think that What makes people successful in their careers? Most people might think that the answer is “compliance” or “professionalism” – being able to meet expectations and work within an established company culture; being able to keep promises and perform reliably. But according to a new book about career success (“Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World”), some of the biggest career rewards go to nonconformists – people who think outside of the box and defy expectations and reinvent the rules as they go along. Some of the most successful people are not content to just go along with the established routine - they are nonconformists who want to change the way things are done.

One of the interesting findings from this book is that people who use certain web browsers are more likely to have career success - because their choice of browser sends an important message about how likely they are to accept "default settings" in life. According to a study of people working in customer service and call center jobs, people who use Chrome and Firefox perform better at their jobs and stayed at their jobs 15 percent longer than people who use Internet Explorer and Safari.

The reason? It's not that Chrome and Firefox are magical browsers that make people more productive – it's because people who tend to use these browsers are somehow different from people who choose the default. Using Firefox or Chrome requires the user to actively seek out and download these browsers, instead of just using the default Safari or IE browsers that are pre-installed. Non-conformists tend to seek out new and better solutions in even the most mundane settings.

The book's author, Adam Grant, was quoted as saying: “If you're somebody who had that instinct to say, you know, 'I wonder if there's a better browser out there,' that's just a tiny clue that you might be the kind of person who's willing to reject other defaults in your life too.”

Other insights about the career success of non-conformists include:

Nobel Prize-winning scientists tend to have artistic hobbies: For example, Galileo was a great astronomer, but he also loved to draw. Do you have any artistic hobbies, whether it's visual art or music or performing art? Look for ways to fuel your on-the-job creativity and problem solving skills by exercising your creative muscles outside of work.

Creativity is fueled by novelty and differences: The most original fashion designs tend to come from designers who have spent lots of time working in other countries that are very different from their own, and they figure out how to re-combine insights and styles from different cultures.

Hack your job: Non-conformists are also highly likely to change their own job description – by doing “job crafting” or “job hacking” to do more of what they do best everyday. Look for ways to work with your manager to re-negotiate your daily tasks and reinvent your entire job description if needed – as long as the overall team is still being efficient and effective.

Perhaps the future definition of career success will be more open and accommodating to creative people and visionaries who aren't just looking to fit in to the world – but to change it for the better. Read more about the career success secrets of non-conformists in this NPR interview.

 

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